PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday the country’s coronavirus lockdown will be extended until May 11 and eased afterward, setting out a plan to progressively wind down restrictive measures.
“The epidemic is not under control yet,” Macron said in an address to the nation Monday evening. “The strictest lockdown must continue until May 11.”
After that date, kindergartens, schools and workplaces will progressively reopen, based on a plan that will be announced by the government by the end of April. The elderly, handicapped and those with pre-existing chronic conditions would have to remain under lockdown beyond May 11, and cafés, restaurants, bars, cinemas and theaters, concert halls and museums would remain closed, according to Macron.
He added that as of May 11, the central government, in coordination with local mayors, will make available general-use masks for each citizen, as well as for workers who are most exposed. The use of a mask on public transport and other situations could also become “systematic,” said Macron, after weeks of confused government guidance on masks.
Macron also announced that the country will have the capacity to test every person presenting symptoms as of May 11, though he added that “we won’t test every French person — it would have no meaning.” People who test positive for the virus will be quarantined. Before May 11, testing priority will be given to seniors, medical professionals and the most vulnerable, according to Macron.
“Until further notice, our borders with non-European countries will remain closed,” Macron added.
The speech Monday was Macron’s fourth address to the nation in a month. He took a markedly softer, more reassuring tone than in his previous speeches, swapping his prior declaration that “we are at war” for a more optimistic one, which he stated twice: “Hope is re-emerging.”
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